Rotterdam departed Copenhagen yesterday, bringing to an end Holland America Line’s cruise season in the Danish capital for 2009. Holland America Line will return in 2010. Following is a story about my move to Scandinavia in 2007 and why any cruiser should consider a visit here.
In December of 2007, I moved from America’s happiest city to the world’s happiest nation. In case you missed it, a major news network cited Asheville, North Carolina as the happiest city in the United States — with Denmark taking honors as the world’s happiest country.
I first visited Denmark in 2003, when assigned to write about Northern Europe’s cruise capital, Copenhagen. Like many others who have visited Denmark’s cosmopolitan capital, I found myself immediately intrigued and eventually smitten. I’ve seldom visited a place where the people were so welcoming, the lifestyle so easy, and the endless summer sunlight, so energizing.
I moved to Copenhagen because I wanted to see what it was like to live one year of my life in such a happy, foreign place. And my timing could not have been better.
In the fall of 2007, a high-profile cruise executive proclaimed Europe to be cruising’s “new center of gravity.” And because I make my living writing about cruises, I wanted to put myself in the center of all that gravity. With more than 300 cruise ship calls, Copenhagen seemed a good place to be — both professionally and personally.
While in Copenhagen, I had hoped to learn how to help visitors, like me, get the most from their time in the Danish capital.
For starters, how can visitors survive in a city where consumers pay 39 percent more than the European Union average for goods and services? According to Statistics Denmark, the nation is Europe’s most expensive city for food, transport, restaurant and hotel prices.
Indeed, Copenhagen can be brutally expensive. In a restaurant recently, I noted that the children’s menu was DKK 150 (Denmark’s official currency is the Danish krone). That’s US$32. For the kids!
On the day that I wrote these words, I paid the equivalent of US$15 for a hot dog, candy bar and Coke at a convenience store. You can easily pay more US$7 for a cappucino and nearly US$10 for a beer.
Over time, however, I’ve ferreted out some of Copenhagen’s best dining values. Dinner at my favorite restaurant, for example, about US$26. It’s called Peder Oxe in case you’re looking for a good meal at a good price.
I can tell you that I do love Copenhagen and its environs. I have more moments of euphoria living in this region than I have had living in any other place.
Why should I be surprised? Denmark is the world’s happiest nation, and although I am often to be found just across the border, in Sweden, I am happiest when I am here. You will be too. I assure you.
In 2010, come cruise to or from Copenhagen. And be sure to stay a few extra days before or after your cruise. After all, we all deserve as much happiness as we can get.